Inside The Numbers: Consistency And Inconsistency

Justus Reed, Virginia Tech
Justus Reed has been a consistent performer for Virginia Tech this season. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Consistently inconsistent…that is how some perceive the Virginia Tech football program these days.  Today I want to talk about several individual players on the defensive side of the ball, point out their inconsistencies (or their consistency), and tell you why I think things are happening the way they are.

Consistency vs. Inconsistency

I told several people last week that I thought the Hokies were about to close the book on Brion Murray at cornerback.  They benched him after one drive against Liberty because he got burned on the out-and-up, and I figured they’d go in a different direction.  But he was right back in the starting lineup against Miami, and though that could be partially because Dorian Strong had spent much of the week sick with strep throat (along with Alan Tisdale), I was still surprised.  As it turned out, he played one of the best games of his career, arguably the best considering the level of competition. Here are Murray’s game-by-game numbers:

(At the far right is the defensive grade.  “TOT” is the total number of defense snaps, followed by snaps against the run, snaps rushing the passer, and snaps in coverage.)

What we want is consistent green.  That’s a whole lot of red and orange, bookended by green.  Last week he was torched by Liberty, and then this week he was lockdown against Miami.  Shrug.  I dunno.

Perhaps you could say the same thing about Dax Hollifield.

Dax has had a rough season.  I discount the UNC game for everybody, but even throwing that one out, he hasn’t been very good against the run.  He was extremely bad against the run against Liberty, and I texted a few people after the game and said something like “you know, I think Dax might be the worst starting linebacker we’ve had since I’ve been following the team.”

And then he follows it up with his best game of the season, and arguably the best game of his career.  Again…shrug.  I dunno.

Generally speaking, I think the most consistent football players happen to be the most physically gifted football players.  It’s easy to be consistent when you are physically better than the guy lining up across from you on a week to week basis. 

Most players aren’t consistent, in my opinion, because it varies from week to week whether or not they have more talent than the guy they are facing off with.  Mediocre players are prone to inconsistency because sometimes they have less talent than the guy they are facing, and sometimes they have more.